hist-brewing: Marsh Rosemary?

Mike and Laura Angotti angotti at world.std.com
Tue Jun 17 18:59:32 PDT 1997

To Andrew and others interested:

First I commend your interest in finding out about herbs before you use
them.  A good idea.  As for your questions about herbs (brief pause, brewing
books in basement, computer on second floor).

One of my herb books gives a reference for marsh rosemary (A Modern Herbal,
M.Grieve, Dover Books).  The entry under Ledum palustre says: "(Marsh Tes,
Marsh Cistsu, Wild Rosemary, Wild Rosmarin, Rosamrinus Sylvestris, Porsch,
Sumpfporsch, Finne The) grows in swamps and wet places of northern Europe,
Asia, and America, and on the mountains of southern districts.  The leavse
are reputed to be more powerful than those of L. latifolum, and to have in
addition some narcotic properties, being used in Germany to make beer more
intoxicating.  The leaves contain a volatile oil, including ledum camphor, a
stearopten, with valeric and volatile acids, ericolin, and ercinol. The
tannin is called leditannic acid."  Much the same information is in my Herb
Society of America book, which does not specifically note that it is
poisonous or restricted.

Both yarrow and myrica gale (bog myrtle) similarly have no notice of being
poisonous or restricted.  Both are listed in at least one of my books as an
additive for beer, looks like you are on the right track there.  Bog myrtle
is listed in Grieve as "Said to contain a poisonous volatile oil" and "The
leavews have beenused in France as an emmenagogue and abortifacent".  

Grieve's book also cites marsh rosemary as an alternate name for Statice
Caroliniana (AKA statice limonium, ink root, sea lavender, marsh rosemary).
Based on your information, this is not the right herb.

Hope this information helps.  Let us know how your Gruit experiment works out.

Laura Angotti
angotti at world.std.com

At 12:36 AM 6/15/97 -0500, you wrote:
>Dear Gentlefolk of the List,
>    I'm not quite sure about one of the ingredients in the gruit.  My 
>local homebrew shop has myrica gale, and I'm sure I can scare up yarrow 
>somewhere, but "Ledum Palustre (Marsh Rosemary)" has me thoroughly 
>confused.  What is this herb?  I can't seem to find any other reference 
>to it.  Is it related to the rosemary in my spice cabinet?  The 
>Linnaean name given doesn't seem to indicate any relationship to 
>convetional rosemary (Rosemaris something-or-other, if I remember 
>rightly).  Are the two remotely similar in flavor?  
>    Also, is there anything I should know about these herbs, myrica 
>gale, marsh rosemary, and yarrow?  I seem to remember yarrow as an 
>abortifacient--might this or any other harmful effects carry through in 
>the beer?
>                        Thanks much for any help,
>                        Andrew
>                        <careya at ix.netcom.com>

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